Colton Smith plays hero as London Knights knock off Spitfires

Ottawa Senators’ head coach, D.J. Smith, played for the Windsor Spitfires. He coached the Windsor Spitfires and won Memorial Cups with the Spitfires, surviving a tough battle or two against the London Knights along the way.

But he may have had to smile as his son, Colton Smith, scored the shootout winner for the Knights on Monday afternoon to give London a 4-3 victory in Windsor.

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Smith skated the puck across the blue line, carried it to the net and snapped a shot past Xavier Medina to give the Knights their third consecutive victory to start the 2021-22 season.

Brett Brochu stopped seven of eight shots that he faced in the shootout and made 35 saves in regulation as he won for the 25th time in his past 26 OHL starts.

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London started the scoring early thanks to a pair of goals from players who scored for the second straight game.

Stuart Rolofs said that he hoped his first OHL goal on Saturday in Owen Sound would “open the floodgates.” Just 6:17 into the opening period of his next game, Rolofs found the back of the net again as he skated in front on a London power play and snapped a shot into the top corner of the net to make it 1-0.

Luke Evangelista ripped in his third goal in two games just over two minutes later. Overager Cody Morgan made Evangelista feel like he was on the first tee block at Firerock Golf and Country Club as he sent a pass through the slot on a tee for the Nashville Predators’ 2nd rounder. Then, Evangelista blasted it through Medina and into the Windsor net.

The Spitfires cut the Knights lead in half just 3:45 into the second period as Windsor came out buzzing in the London zone. Brett Brochu made two stops before Wyatt Johnston was able to jam a puck past the Tilbury, Ont., native at the side of the net.

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Matt Maggio hammered a one-timer past Brochu from the left side of the London zone just 4:05 into the third period to tie the game, and then Windsor’s first round pick in 2020, Ryan Abraham, found a bouncing puck in front and slid it in to put the Spitfires in front 3-2. The goals came just two minutes and nine seconds apart.

The teams ended up in overtime and the best chance went to Evangelista, who got in alone but was stopped by Medina.

Brochu made 35 saves in net for London. Medina stopped 39 for Windsor.

The Knights were 1-for-3 on the power play and held the Spitfires scoreless through three chances on the man advantage.

Juolevi headed south

The Vancouver Canucks have traded former Knights defenceman Olli Juolevi to the Florida Panthers. Vancouver gets forward and former Kingston Frontenac Juho Lammikko and defence man Noah Juulsen in return. Juolevi was selected 5th overall by the Canucks in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft after helping the Knights to win the Memorial Cup but had not been able to solidify a full-time spot on the Vancouver blue line.

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Watching the prospects

Goaltender Owen Flores has started the season with the London Nationals and already has a victory and a shutout to begin the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League season. Flores has appeared in three games so far and has a goals-against average of 2.47 and a save percentage of .919. He made 26 saves to blank the Strathroy Rockets on Oct. 6. Flores is from the Chicago area and caught the eye of London goaltending coach Daren Machesney at a tournament in Windsor.

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How about an encore?

London has been producing players who go on to play in the National Hockey League at a rate well above the league average for a long time. Last year, 27 ex-Knights were on opening game NHL rosters. The OHL average was 8.75. In 2020-21, there were 45 former Knights who played at least one game in the National Hockey League. The next closest team on the list was Sault Ste. Marie with 23. Rounding out the top five, Barrie had 20, and Windsor and Kitchener each had 17.

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Up next

London and Windsor will meet again on Friday, Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Budweiser Gardens. It will mark the first time since March 8, 2020, that the building has had a capacity crowd for a hockey game. The Knights had a maximum of 4,500 fans permitted for their final pre-season game and their home-opening victory over Owen Sound on Oct. 8.

The Knights will visit the Sarnia Sting on Saturday, Oct. 16.

Both games can be heard on 980 CFPL, and on the Radioplayer Canada app.

Broadcast time on Oct. 15 is 7 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 16.


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